Anyone who reads my blogs
regularly knows that I really prefer to write or repost information that is
positive, educational, funny, or helpful. However, I feel that I need to share
my recent experience with Voyageurs International, LTD. (VIL)
My youngest Polliwog was
signed up for a European tour to perform in a number of countries. VIL is the
company which our local school board has partnered with to lead the tour and
make arrangements. The cost of this trip is between 7-10k. This does not
include his discretionary money and so on. The fees are set up in payment
schedules and based upon how close we are to the trip; the cancellation fee
I feel that it is important
to note that as a serial entrepreneur, I understand the cost of doing business
and am supportive of REASONABLE cancellation fees. I also am a human and
understand that human circumstances happen, thus it is important to consider
all parts of the system and have contingency plans for special situations.
Personally, the human factor is a much larger factor in my business practices.
We also know that we are
currently facing a pandemic which has already lead to a significant shift in
the travel paradigm. Additionally, there are economic and social consequences
that may create a level of malcontent that could make international travel a
dangerous situation for our children. Thus, I contacted the company this morning
and asked about their contingency plan in the event that they need to cancel
the trip or that we as parents no longer feel the event is safe for our
children. I was informed that they will not cancel a trip until 10 days before
the event and they have collected all of the money.
I was informed
that their contract is very clear and that if they canceled, no matter the
reason, there would be ZERO refund and ZERO credit towards further travel.
Help me understand how your “mom and pop
company owners” can sleep at night knowing that you are creating a situation
that will be hurtful for many families. Many of these parents are people who
are sacrificing and saving the thousands of dollars for to send their child on
this once in a lifetime trip. You KNOW, there is a large
possibility that this trip will not work out as presented, yet you are waiting
until the last minute to establish a plan or cancel while collecting the full
fee and offering no accommodation for these families. Additionally, you are
putting parents in a position to either choose the safety and wellbeing of
their child or loose thousands of dollars should you choose to take the risk of
touring a group of children through a series of pandemic effected areas.
I find this practice egregious and I immediately cancelled my son’s trip
based upon this alone. I find that someone who has so little consideration for
people simply gross. This is predatory behavior taking advantage of a parent’s
I specifically inquired because several spots on the itinerary will
probably have to be cancelled. I had already researched and found out that they
are under quarantine and have closed borders (the trip is less than 3 months
away and there is significant chance that they will continue to be closed as
the current information says that the reopening is TBA). They denied having
knowledge of this.
If you are running an international tour for children, help me
understand why you are not keeping a tight eye on the situation in the
countries and considering the wellbeing of our children and arranging some sort
of contingency plan?
I find that the lack of proactive research and contingency planning
negligent and I will never allow any of my children under your care as it is
clear you do not have their best interest at heart.
I will be emailing copies of this blog to the press and the school
board. I hope that Plant High School and the Hillsborough County School System
and any other schools that work with this company read this and reconsider who
does their group travels.
Today I cancelled and it cost me $1600. My child will always be more
important than money. However, I urge parents to head this warning. If you do
not cancel before tomorrow, you will lose another $600 for the cancellation fee
and after May 1, you lose everything.